A UT Arlington civil engineering associate professor
is studying the feasibility of placing a high-speed rail line within the public
right of way from North Texas to Houston and San Antonio.
The work is funded by the Texas Department of
Stephen Mattingly, an
associate professor of civil engineering, is assessing the performance
constraints to safe operation and design, which affect a high-speed train’s
average speed and overall system cost as part of his research. The routes would
roughly follow Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston, Interstate 35 between
Dallas and San Antonio, and State Highway 6 from Waco to Houston.
recently faced a significant outcry against right-of-way acquisition
when it began to plan for developing the Trans-Texas Corridor, Mattingly
said. That negative experience, as well as the typical costs like
environmental impacts and delays associated with construction on
undeveloped land, led the agency to consider using its existing
right-of-way resources to the greatest extent possible critical, he
“The primary purpose of this research is to determine if and
how existing TxDOT right of way can potentially accommodate high-speed
intercity passenger rail and/or dedicated freight transportation
systems,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly expects to deliver his findings this fall.
Texas leaders have had recent discussions with Texas Central High Speed
Railway, a private, for-profit company interested in bringing
high-speed rail to the state. Mattingly’s work is not directly related
to those discussions but could provide meaningful insight to rail
“We’re conducting research to provide a range of
information for TxDOT so that they have a starting point for
negotiations with a possible system designer,” Mattingly said. “We want
to identify whether it’s conceivable to even have high-speed rail in
The University of Texas at Austin, the
University of North Texas and Texas Southern University also are
participating in the TxDOT study with The University of Texas at
Sia Ardekani, civil engineering professor, is
co-principal investigator. Sunil Madanu, a doctoral candidate, is the
primary graduate research assistant working on the project.
Research Associate Antonio Massidda’s previous experience on a
high-speed rail project in Italy enabled him to provide valuable
research support and technical oversight. Farhan Khan, a doctoral
student, also provided support during the development of the corridor
Ali Abolmaali, chairman of UT Arlington’s Civil Engineering Department,
said Mattingly’s work highlights the significant role research
universities like UT Arlington can play in state and regional planning.
joined UT Arlington in 2002 and has engaged in research supported by
TxDOT, DART, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the
National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration and DFW
“Dr. Mattingly is particularly knowledgeable about the
important connections between such rail lines and major airports,”
Abolmaali said. “The UT Arlington College of Engineering is pleased to be playing a significant role in these critical conversations about our future transportation solutions.”
said the research will provide TxDOT a case study for each of the
candidate corridors. For instance, Mattingly said determining how to
handle obstacles such as overpasses and sharp curves within the right of
way poses a significant challenge. The case studies identify where
these obstructions are located and proposes solutions for overcoming
Another factor in project cost is where the end terminals
will be placed for the high-speed rail line. Mattingly said locating a
station at an airport or in an urban core probably makes the most sense.
the cost of establishing a terminal at either of these sites will be
much more expensive than the outskirts of a metropolitan area because
land values in an urban core or at an airport tend to be more expensive
and high-speed rail line costs increase significantly in urban areas
because of the lack of right of way for an at-grade system.
work is representative of research excellence at The University of
Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of about 33,800
students and 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas.
Research activity has more than tripled over the past decade to $71.4
million last year with an emphasis on bioengineering, medical
diagnostics, micro manufacturing, advanced robotics and defense and
Homeland Security technologies, among other areas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.